‘Delight’ as government agrees to restore its previous local housing numbers

ADD UPDATE: 21 December 2020: ADD is delighted to end this very difficult year with some Christmas cheer for its supporters and all who care about our area and its environment.

The government has announced details of how it will replace its proposed algorithm, published on 6 August, which would have required local authorities in the South East to raise dramatically their housing targets. It would have meant a 21% increase for Eastleigh, amounting to several thousand additional homes, casting doubt over our hard-fought victory at last year’s planning inquiry. The revised policy will instead concentrate more development in existing urban and brownfield areas such as Southampton, where the necessary infrastructure already exists, and in parts of the North and Midlands.

As a result Eastleigh’s housing targets will still be those applied to the draft Local Plan for 2016-36, which included the controversial Options B and C and associated link road. The plan was, of course, the reason for ADD’s four-year battle with Eastleigh Borough Council to protect Bishopstoke, Fair Oak, Allbrook and the River Itchen from unnecessary and highly destructive development.

Our position was upheld by the government planning inspector who, in a letter dated 1 April, instructed the council to delete these proposals. The council and its ruling group later agreed that there should be no development in rural parts of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke for at least ten years, and supported calls for the area to become part of a new green belt.

“We are naturally very pleased with the government’s change of heart,” said ADD chair John Lauwerys. “The decision to abandon the government’s algorithm and to continue with the previous target for Eastleigh means that the council can be expected to maintain its new and welcome approach.” ADD was one of 507 community groups to respond to the government consultation on the algorithm, setting out the reasons why we regarded it as fundamentally flawed.

He paid tribute to the “highly effective” efforts of our three local MPs, Paul Holmes, Steve Brine and Flick Drummond in arguing against the proposed new housing targets – and to CPRE for its formidable, evidence-based lobbying. Winchester residents, especially those who were horrified by the proposed Royaldown development between Winchester and Hursley, also have reason to celebrate as the city council had faced a whopping 48% rise in its housing targets.

Is that the end of the story? Not quite, as we have yet to see the final shape of the Eastleigh Local Plan, which is expected early next year. What’s more, the government continues to propose giving developers greater freedom whilst reducing the scope for local people and authorities to influence decisions. Whilst it is very hard to see Options B and C returning in anything like their original form, do not be too surprised if we have to fight more opportunistic and inappropriate schemes in the future.

ADD wishes its supporters a very happy Christmas in these challenging times. We thank you for your continued support. We think you will agree that in at least one respect this has been a very positive and successful year.